Ideology of Television


I already don’t watch a great deal of television — which in itself may be a problem — and after learning about the ideology that TV exudes I have no desire to watch more of it. But as a media student I feel I have an obligation, if only to myself, to stare at the boob tube. Isn’t it the most influential cultural artifacts of our time? Shouldn’t I stay on top of the latest trends in editing, music, and other media, especially if I want to work in television?

Conversely, there is so much garbage out there! And the covert/subtle messages!? I am hardly an expert in dissecting television’s language but much of it is so blatant that it becomes distracting and irritating. Although, I must admit I can sit back and say to myself, with a slightly smug smile, that I see what’s going on here.

Or do I?

How much of it am I getting? There must be layers upon layers, plots within plots; how many can I unravel? Of course, I’m not referring to anything as simple as story or character but rather what those things represent and how they are intended to make me think and behave.

This all makes me question my own art. As a representative of white, male, middle class America my art must (must?) be infused with the dominant ideology. Is this something I can change? I don’t think I can root out ideology. It has shaped who I am; it is a part of me. I must consider who my art is hailing and what it is saying to them. This is a question that I haven’t deeply considered before. Previously, my conception of audience was friends, classmates, and usually: teacher. Now, I must think about all the different groups found in society and how I address them.

I must also attack my very approach and those assumptions I take completely for granted because although they may appear invisible to me they are also the most powerful. It is in those dark corners that I will find ideology if I have the perseverance to hunt it.

By Richard Munter

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~ Richard